"Bloody" Buddy Giovinazzo is one of the few directors to have created something so wildly foreign to Troma's usual assortment of tits and bugs. Rearing its ugly head at impoverished communities and the First Blood motif: "...fighting the war at home", Combat Shock, alternately American Nightmares, is a mean sonuvabitch that embraces pockets of nihilism all about its post-Vietnam squalor. Blatantly inspired by both Taxi Driver and Eraserhead, Buddy G. sought to mix thriller and nightmares in this piece of hatred. One can't tell whether Buddy G. was one of the few seething Italian directors with allegory's to spit or if it was the drug-addled production that turned the film into the raging A-bomb that it is still to this day. What's for certain is that Combat Shock appears timeless as unemployment and homelessness continues to steadily rise as our economy comes crashing down all around us.
One point worth noting is the vibrant and "wacky" soundtrack. For some odd reason, Buddy G. acquired the world's most peculiar score to accompany his dismal diatribe. Funky percussion and Casio jams echo through the streets as Frankie strolls past chaos during a "junk-sick dawn." Running into loan-sharks who conduct a child prostitution ring leads us to believe Combat Shock will go down the easy route of fulfilling some vendetta towards society as popularized in Taxi Driver, but alas, nothing of societal worth is to be found. A key unveiling also happens to be the very fragile spirit of Frankie. In a strange turn of events, we witness with voice-overs and images projected onto his disturbed face the real truths of what occurred in Saigon and what became of the victims of the village massacre. Combat Shock is precisely what it's known for: gritty nihilism and a bleak climax. Apart from the negativity, Combat Shock also manages to be a comedy of sorts. The free-falling Frankie is host to some of the most unfortunate events. Add in scenes of brief mingling with rabid Junkies and you got yourself a strange portrait of the seedy underground. What Buddy G. created was certainly an unhappy number but if this didn't boost Troma's credibility, I don't know what could.